Hellbound: Hellraiser II

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“Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell!”

Hellraiser has spawned eight sequels over the years, not including the piece of trash Revelations, and has made “Pinhead” one of the most iconic of all the horror villains of all time.
It has one of the biggest cult followings ever and has actually influenced our culture in more ways than one. Many people will tell you that they like Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 better and actually prefer it over the first Hellraiser film. Then again, many people will also tell you that the first film is by far superior.
I find myself stuck somewhere in the middle. I don’t feel that either film is better or worse than the other. I tend to think of this film as more of a great companion piece to the first Hellraiser. It is the only one in the series that continues the story of its predecessor and it is the start of the ever growing mythology that has become the Hellraiser universe.

The film once again stars Clare Higgins as Julia and Ashley Laurence as Kirsty. The newcomers are Kenneth Cranham as Dr. Channard and Imogen Boorman as Tiffany. Pinhead is played by Doug Bradley, Chatterer by Nicholas Vince, the female Cenobite by Barbie Wilde, and Butterball by Simon Bamford.

“We have eternity to know your flesh.”

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The first Hellraiser film gave us the love story of Julia and Frank and the “super butcher” order, also known as the Cenobites. Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 puts the tragic story of Julia and Frank on the back burner and changes gears a little, favoring to focus more on the Cenobites themselves. As viewers we get to see just how “Pinhead” was created and also get to see a new Cenobite being created as well.

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The film is a direct continuation of Hellraiser. In fact, the beginning of Hellbound is the ending of Hellraiser. After Kirsty defeats the Cenobites and sends them back to the labyrinths of Hell, she is sent to a mental institution where she meets Dr. Channard. With the exception of a single doctor, his colleagues and a police detective, not believing a word of her fantastical story, assume she has lost her mind. She almost wonders herself after having a vision of what she thinks is her skinned father appearing in her room, and with a bloody fingertip writes the words, “I am in Hell help me.”

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This begins her voyage to Hell and save her father.
It turns out Dr. Channard wants to embark on a voyage of his own. We see throughout the film he has been obsessed with “the box” and the pleasure and pain aspect it synonymously represents. He has the mattress that Julia died on delivered directly to his home. What unfolds is actually one of my favorite scenes in the film. Dr. Channard brings a patient, known as Mr. Browning, to his home from the mental ward. The acting here given by Oliver Smith, is second to none. This is one of those scenes you won’t soon forget. The patient is restrained by a traditional straight jacket and constantly repeats the words, “Get them off me, get them off me!” Releasing the patient from his restraints, Dr. Channard sets Mr. Browning on the mattress and gives him a straight razor to relieve himself from his mental affliction. Mr. Browning then cuts himself repeatedly from chest to groin. That’s when we see a skinless Julia rise from the mattress, and after a short struggle, consumes the patient much in the same way Frank did his victims in the first film. What follows is a unique journey from the maze like corridors of the labyrinth of hell and back.

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“Our mind is a labyrinth.”

Just like the first Hellraiser, this film is packed with highly quotable lines, from beginning to end. Tony Randel did a masterful job of creating Hell on celluloid, particularly how he makes Hell seem “personalized.” We get a glimpse of Frank’s Hell, and I must say, it is quite suiting. We learn from the first film that Frank is a lustful being always looking to satisfy his every sexual desire. There are small arch ways on each side of his room in his personal part of Hell. Inside each hole is a sliding table with writhing, voluptuous women moaning in ecstasy, that he is completely unable to touch or even see outside of the sheet that has been placed on each. If he tries to remove the sheet, there is nothing there anymore, only a slab where the womanly shape had been. Frank’s quote regarding this is wonderful. “This is my Hell. They are here to tease me. They promise forever and never deliver.”

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“Oh my God!”
“No, this is mine. God of flesh, hunger, desire. My God Leviathan, Lord of the Labyrinth.”

When the film was released, screenwriter Peter Atkins received loads of hate mail from fans that were outraged that “Pinhead” and his three Cenobite cohorts, were so easily defeated in their battle. Peter Atkins said it was because they had become “spiritually weakened” by Kirsty when she reminded them that they were once human, while Dr. Channard had already completely left his humanity behind. A lot of people who have seen Hellbound multiple times complain of a somewhat muddled storyline.
One main reason is because Andrew Robinson refused to reprise his role as Larry Cotton, which forced hasty script rewritings. Andrew has stated that he withdrew himself from the production because he was told he would be making less in Hellbound than he did in Hellraiser.

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If you’re a long time fan as I am, you’ll remember an image on the back of the original VHS jacket depicted Pinhead and the female Cenobite dressed as doctors. There are some that think this had become a deleted scene. Doug Bradley enlightened long time fans on his official website by stating that the scene had never been filmed, nor completed. The day they were to shoot that scene, the special effects were not working properly and eventually it was decided that the scene be abandoned.

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Tony Randel made an excellent decision by bringing back Christopher Young for the soundtrack. He did such a masterful job in Hellraiser and it actually became a highlight of the first film. He does such a great job of showing us balance in his score, a mix of beauty and terror, light and dark. He even went so far as to incorporate morse code for “GOD” with Tibetan horns when Leviathan is first shown.

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I have had the absolute pleasure in chatting with both Nicholas Vince (Chatterer) and Barbie Wilde (Deepthroat). They are both great actors and are both authors that have recently published books, all with fantastic success and excellent reviews and they have taken time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions for me.

Barbie Wilde interview :

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Death by Stereo: The Cenobite you play ultimately became known as “Deep Throat.” Is this a nickname that happened on set during filming? Or was it created by fans of the films?

Barbie Wilde: “Deep Throat” is the nickname that the Image Animation makeup crew gave to the Female Cenobite character. If you look at the credits from the first film, Pinhead was “Lead Cenobite”, Chatterer was “Chattering Cenobite”, Butterball was “Butterball Cenobite”, etc. By the time the second film rolled around, the decision was made to give the Cenobites their makeup crew names for the credits. However, the American production company thought that “Deep Throat” was too rude to use in the credits (because of the notorious 1972 film, Deep Throat, starring Linda Lovelace), so I was lumbered with the rather dull name of Female Cenobite.

Death by Stereo: Did you do anything specific to prepare for the role?

Barbie Wilde: I read Clive Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, as preparation for the role. The makeup and the costume were really helpful as well. Looking into the mirror and seeing myself as a Female Cenobite for the first time was really empowering.

Death by Stereo: Were you ever asked to reprise the role of the Female Cenobite in any of the subsequent films?

Barbie Wilde: The whole production moved to Hollywood and Doug Bradley was the only Cenobite who was asked to come on board.

Death by Stereo: Do you have a favorite Hellraiser film?

Barbie Wilde: I’ve only seen the first two. I love the first Hellraiser movie. I think that the character of Julia is absolutely brilliant. All that twisted sexual obsession for bad boy Frank! And of course, the first time the Cenobites enter is a pretty gobsmacking moment. Of course, a lot of fans prefer Hellbound, as it delves into the Cenobite-Hellraiser mythology in more detail.

Death by Stereo: Clive Barker has recently said that he is very interested in remaking the first Hellraiser film. Would you be interested in appearing once again as a Cenobite for the remake should Clive ask?

Barbie Wilde: If Clive wanted me to be in a Hellraiser reboot, then who am I to say no?! Of course, I’d love to appear in anything that Clive was involved in.

Death by Stereo: How did you get the part of the Female Cenobite?

Barbie Wilde: My acting agent was approached by Doreen Jones, the Casting Director of Hellbound. I met with Tony Randel and I got the part. It was probably one of the easiest auditions I’ve ever gone to! And who knows, maybe Tony was impressed that I knew what the word “cenobite” meant. (It means a member of an order.) He thought it was a word that Clive had made up.

Death by Stereo: What was your favorite experience/memory on the set?

Barbie Wilde: The camaraderie behind the scenes. We all spent a heck of a lot of time being prepared for our roles in makeup and costume: my prosthetic makeup took four hours to apply; I think Doug’s took five hours; Ken Cranham’s took six. We kept our spirits up by telling stories, singing (I know all the hits from Cabaret) and dancing. There is some footage up on Youtube of Simon “Butterball” Bamford doing the CanCan in his costume. Fabulous!

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Here’s Part One of the Hellbound behind-the scenes video filmed by Geoff Portass:

And here’s Part Two:

Also, I’ll never forget my first day of filming. My flight back from the States was delayed 24 hours, so I had to go straight from the airport to Pinewood Studios, then sit in the makeup chair for four hours, get into costume, then wait around for six hours until I got in front of the cameras to film the first big Cenobite scene in Channard’s study. By that time, I was not only jet-lagged and exhausted by not having any sleep for 24 hours, but my mental state was altered beyond belief. I really did feel like a demon from hell!

Death by Stereo: What are you working on these days?

Barbie Wilde: I’m writing a screenplay based on one of my short stories, ‘Zulu Zombies’, which appeared in Fangoria’s Gorezone #29, as well as the anthology, Bestiarum Vocabulum, which is published by Western Legends.
I will be appearing (for the first time in 16 years) in a brilliantly written, unusual British horror anthology movie called Bad Medicine, written by Amazon #1 horror author Dave Jeffery. I’ll be playing an unconventional therapist. I’m also co-writing a musical drama for both stage and screen called Sailor. It’s about love, revenge, death and redemption, set in the ruins of post-War Marseille.

Death by Stereo: Your book The Venus Complex is getting rave reviews all across the board, including our review here at Horror Homework. Do you prefer writing as opposed to acting, and why?

Barbie Wilde: I love writing, although it’s not an easy process for me. I can’t really compare acting and writing – they are so different. (Yet at the same time, complement each other perfectly.) I’m excited to be acting in a movie again after all these years, but I’m equally excited to be writing a movie screenplay.

Death by Stereo: Is there anything you’d like to say to all of the Hellraiser fans out there?

Barbie Wilde: A big “thanks!” to all the fans who have loved Clive Barker’s Hellraiser mythology. It’s a testament to Clive’s genius that people are still intrigued by this most imaginative and seductive of horror stories.

For news, reviews, interviews and convention appearances, you can check out Barbie’s website here, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!
To check out Barbie’s books and stories, please go to her Amazon USA Author Page.

Nicholas Vince interview :

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Death by Stereo: Your makeup is considerably different from the first film. I saw an interview regarding the first film and you mentioned the makeup process, when finished, was tough to see through. Was the change solely for you to be able to see better?

Nicholas Vince: There was a combination of things. It really was a tough makeup to wear, akin to sensory deprivation as I couldn’t hear, speak or see when wearing the original makeup. So, the guys at Image animation suggested making alterations. Also there were sequences in Hellbound where Chatterer was running after Kirsty down the corridors under the Channard institute. Obviously, I’d need to be able to see to do those. We filmed them but they didn’t make the final cut.

Death by Stereo: Did you have any say so in the final look of the character on the second go round?

Nicholas Vince: Nope. I was just happy to be able to see.

Death by Stereo: Did you do anything specific to prepare for the role?

Nicholas Vince: Just the same as when I played him the first time – chattering my teeth to the bathroom mirror.

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Death by Stereo: Were you ever asked to reprise the Chatterer role in any of the subsequent films?

Nicholas Vince: They were all filmed in the USA and I wasn’t asked.

Death by Stereo: Do you have a favorite Hellraiser film?

Nicholas Vince: Hellraiser and Hellbound. Hellraiser, as it’s a domestic drama with monsters and Hellbound for Kenneth Cranham’s wonderfully creepy Dr. Channard.

Death by Stereo: Working on the first and second Hellraiser, what was different for you in regards to taking direction from Clive and Tony?

Nicholas Vince: I’d not met Tony before, whereas I’d known Clive for years. They also had a very different style.

Death by Stereo: I’ve heard you say you actually had an accident on set with a large hook. Can you tell us about that?

Nicholas Vince: We were filming the sequence where Chatterer is hit in the chest by a tentacle fired from Channard’s palm. I was standing in front of a spinning pillar and at the top was a piece of wood sticking out with a chain and 12” rusty hook – a rice hook I think. As I opened my mouth to scream, the point of the hook went between the false teeth and into the roof of my mouth. It only went in about 1/4” so it was very lucky I was wearing the false teeth or it might have been a lot nastier.

Death by Stereo: Clive Barker has recently said that he is very interested in remaking the first Hellraiser film. Would you be interested in appearing once again as a Cenobite for the remake should Clive ask?

Nicholas Vince: If Clive asked, I’d probably walk into a cage full of lions. No, strike that, probably bad to give him ideas. Yes, whatever Clive asked me, I’d probably do it.

Death by Stereo: What was your favorite experience/memory on the set?

Nicholas Vince: Just being back with the gang who’d made Hellraiser and then meeting Barbie Wilde.

Death by Stereo: You have had excellent success with What Monsters Do and Other People’s Darkness, both have great reviews have been well received. Do you prefer writing to acting? Why?

Nicholas Vince: I prefer to doing everything possible. Acting gets me out of the house and it’s really interesting to work with other people’s words, and other actors. I find it very inspiring. At the same time, I love writing. I always wish I was doing more, but as I’m an author publisher, I spend a fair amount of time concentrating on marketing the books etc. And walking the dog.

Death by Stereo: Did you read Clive’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, prior to working on the film?

Nicholas Vince: I suspect I will have read the book after making the film as I have a memory of reading the standalone version, but honestly, I’m not sure.

Death by Stereo: Is there anything you’d like to say to all of the Hellraiser fans out there?

Nicholas Vince: Yes, thank you! It’s been an amazing couple of decades and I’m really looking forward to meeting some of you in a couple of weeks at Texas Frightmare and later at Atlantic City. And, I’m also looking forward to the 30th anniversary of Hellraiser in 3 years time.

Follow Nicholas Vince on Facebook and Twitter as well!

So that’s it Hellraiser fans! Be sure to check out Nicholas Vince’s and Barbie Wilde’s official websites for great Hellraiser memorabilia and upcoming projects. Be sure to friend all the Cenobites for the most current news and places they will be.
Nicholas Vince even does Google chats with fans on occasion! Until next time hellions!

“It is not hands that call us. It is desire.”

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Horror Comics at TFAW.com

Movie review : Wolf Creek 2

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Just released On Demand is the long-awaited sequel to 2005′s Wolf Creek!
I was a huge fan of the first film, which followed a group of tourists as they explore the gorgeous Australian Outback, specifically the giant crater at Wolf Creek.
They are unlucky enough to cross paths with a native carrying a grudge (and a high-powered sniper rifle) and the rest of the film plays out as a cat and mouse torture porn hybrid, but artfully elevated above the dregs of most releases in these sub-genres.
The audience was actually compelled to care for these unfortunate back-packers, and the film introduced us to an unlikely new horror icon.

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Mick Taylor (as embodied by Australian native Jon Jarrett) is a larger-than-life charismatic killer, the kind of guy you would love to drink moonshine and trade stories with. In the first film, he jumped off the screen as a new horror icon, cementing his place among the classic boogeymen of horror cinema.
His character (and the story which is advertised as “based on true events”) was loosely based on two different incidents of tourists in the Outback being abducted and tortured.
Jarrett has also said that he modeled the character after his own father, minus the raping and murdering, who he says was “very funny, larger than life, and built like a brick shithouse, a barrel of a man.”

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In the new film, it is obvious from the beginning that this is Mick’s country and the rest of us are just tourists. And he hates tourists.
In fact, despite more ambiguous motives in the first film, this time out it is made abundantly clear that his goal is very simply to destroy any foreigners who set foot on his land, or come between him and his meal.
The tone of the film is set in the outstanding opening sequence, re-introducing Mick to us as he deals with a couple of wise-ass highway patrolmen. After this brutal beginning, we quickly get introduced to Rutger and Katarina, and it seems we are being pushed into comfortable sequel territory, rehashing events eerily similar to the first film.
But before we can get bored with it, writer/director Greg McLean throws a great curveball at us, abruptly shifting the perspective, and lets the audience know immediately that this sequel is definitely not more of the same.
What follows is an intense collection of harrowing set-pieces, including one insane chase sequence on a long stretch of highway inhabited only by an unfortunate pack of kangaroos!

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The entire tone of the film is drastically different than the first.
Where the original was set mostly at night and mostly in dark grimy locations, many of Wolf Creek 2′s more memorable sequences occur in broad daylight. The first film introduced the boogeyman ; in part 2 we are dragged along for the ride, with Jarret’s Taylor squarely on screen for most of the running time.
By the film’s climactic scenes, Mick resembles classic Freddy Krueger more than anything, playfully and confidently stalking his prey through his trap-rigged caverns.
He toys with his victim and makes it abundantly clear that he is in charge at all times.  In fact, one of the most memorable scenes in the film involves an extended drinking and torturing sequence (complete with a fascinating history lesson!) between captor and captive, with an amusing series of questions representing the dangling carrot of potential freedom which is of course snatched away.

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This is the way a sequel should be done, expanding the storyline and character without giving away all of the mystery. The character of Mick Taylor is a fascinating one, a charming and witty ruthless killer, that I would love to see more of.
Kudos to director Greg McLean for making a fresh sequel that gives us exactly what we wanted out of a new chapter. Please don’t make us wait another decade for Wolf Creek 3!
This one is highly recommended.
Watch it On Demand now, and in theaters on May 16th!
I know this is also one Blu-ray that is definitely going into my collection as well when it release June 24th.



Horror Comics at TFAW.com

Movie review : Scream Park

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The latest in a new generation of slasher films that harken back to the 80s heyday, Cary Hill’s Scream Park is the first one I have seen actually billed as a “retro slasher”.
What exactly is a retro slasher?
I’m thinking of films like Hatchet, Full Moon’s recent PMS Cop, and upcoming throwback films like The Pick-Axe Murders III : The Final Chapter and Stage Fright. This is one trend that I could definitely get behind, as many of my youthful days were spent haunting video store aisles and watching every horror flick I could get my hands on.
Scream Park could have easily fit on those old unorganized shelves, existing happily between April Fool’s Day and Sleepaway Camp.

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The first forty minutes or so play out exactly like 2009′s Adventureland, but with 100% less Kristen Stewart and/or Ryan Reynolds, which gives Scream Park bonus points already. The staff of the park decide to throw a party at the end of the night after learning that the park will be closing down, and they are all losing their jobs.

The cast of victims (er, characters) are introduced quickly and in typical broad strokes. They are the nice girl, the jock, the punker guy, the slutty chick, the goth, the uptight manager ; they have names like Marty and Roy and Carlee. They are underage and like to drink and screw. Got it?

Needless to say that things really get going when bad guys show up and begin to take them out one by one, of course, in creative practically-staged ways. The killers are first glimpsed lurking around the fringes of the park, but as they begin making their moves, we get more close-up looks at the sadistic killers and the freakish home-made masks they wear.

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Top-billed Doug Bradley shows up about an hour into the film in one extended cameo scene as Mr. Hyde, the over-the-top owner of the park with a secret agenda. I don’t think it is a spoiler to note that Mr. Hyde is the one behind these murders (as it is right there in the official synopsis), and the whole thing has been set up to try and drive more business to the park in the future. Bradley of course has a convincing demeanor that would make anything sound like a great idea. His three minutes of film is a highlight.

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One thing that is troubling is the inconsistent tone. I am unsure when the film is actually set. The characters dress and act like typical movie teenagers from the 1980′s, but they reference Twilight and cell phones.
Is this a retro slasher, or just a cheap modern slasher with retro elements?
Either way, this is the kind of film we could use more of.
It plays out exactly like it sounds, as if it were a hidden discovery from those days of picking out a movie based on it’s cover art from the horror section of your local video store.

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Scream Park definitely follows the tried and true slasher rules, with no attempt to subvert or re-invent them.
It is actually kind of refreshing.
No social commentary. No meta theories. Best of all, no CGI blood splatters.
Just a cast of teenagers trying to survive the night, trapped in an interesting location, hunted down by killers, with one Final Girl remaining.
It is a goofy, gory fun time.
Simplicity itself, well worth a watch.

Releasing On Demand and on DVD next week, April 22nd, 2014.
For more details visit the Scream Park Facebook page, or order from Amazon here.



Horror Comics at TFAW.com

Full Moon Streaming unleashes PMS Cop!

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Full Moon Studios has been around for years, spreading their unique brand of low-budget horror and exploitation to the masses. Rivaled only by Troma Studios, these quick and dirty do-it-yourself films were easy to appreciate in the simplest ways, as a sort of taboo. They always gave you the feeling that you were watching something you shouldn’t be watching.
As a child of the 70s growing up in the 80s, scoring the latest lurid Full Moon title from the video store on the corner was always a treat, a special kind of gift for the young horror fan. These films seemed to have no rules, no manners, and very often, no obvious redeeming qualities.
And these are my favorite kind of films.

Now, the days of passing off the newest tattered VHS copy of Re-Animator in the school hallway are long gone, but the studio who brought us so much exploitation joy has adapted with the times, bringing us a brand new streaming service. With 100s of movies to choose from under the Full Moon and Wizard banners available for instant streaming, the studio has also enticed a new generation of insensitive low-budget filmmakers to add to their library.

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First out of the gate is PMS Cop, a new feature from director Bryon Blakey, which goes live on the service today, April 4th 2014!
Described as a dark comedy horror, the official synopsis reads :
Mary, a police officer, suffers from severe PMS. After beating a clown rapist to within an inch of his life, she is encouraged to get help. A local pharmaceutical company is holding trials for a new drug, corybantic, that is designed to stop PMS. Mary enrolls and after a tragic event, she has a horrific side effect. With superhuman strength, she begins to kill everyone in her path without mercy.

And, if you weren’t sold by the end of the second sentence above, then this is definitely not your cup of tea. Keep on moving, as we cover all the aspects of horror here, from the artsy to the goofy, and this one falls squarely onto the side of “goofy” (not that that is a bad thing).
So, for the rest of you out there like me, who read “After beating a clown rapist to within an inch of his life”, here is the button to push to watch now!

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After a disclaimer that says “The producers of this movie are in no way admitting to the existence of PMS”, the film kicks right off with the aforementioned clown rape scene, complete with some lovely exposed breasts in the first minute (!)
Our hero cop team arrives just in time to stop the menacing balloon-shaping antics of the deviant clown and chases him through a skate park, ultimately taking out the suspect. Unfortunately, the incident is caught on video, and the officers are called in to be reviewed by a psychologist.

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Heather Hall as Mary is appropriately hostile and very funny in the opening scenes as the officer who takes no shit. The doctor infers that she beat the clown into submission simply because she was PMS-ing, and sends her off to be treated by a new trial drug.
We learn through flashbacks that Mary’s life has been no picnic, and she finally breaks after a sudden tragic loss and begins her reign of terror.
After she snaps, Mary becomes an imposing figure with her mirrored shades and tear-streaked mascara, and embarks on a “Falling Down”-style rampage through town. Her first victims are wife-beaters and pick-pockets, and she proves that she can rip off jaws with the best of them.

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Unfortunately, the first half of the movie is where we get all of this good stuff, as the premise seems to run out of steam shortly after Mary is captured and detained to be studied. From this point, we get a lot of chatter from the doctors and various background characters from the sinister pharmaceutical protege to a hapless computer hacker, all spouting ideas and theories in drawn-out sequences, when all we really want to see is Mary doing more menstrual murdery stuff.
To be fair, as she makes her escape there are several scenes of glorious appendage-ripping and great spurts of practical blood effects. And it all wraps up nicely in a perfect set-up for potential sequels, which is how I remember most of those old films ending.
In all honesty, I liked Mary more in the opening scenes when she was a wise-cracking disillusioned realist rather than when she turns into the mindless (and dialogue-free) killing machine (played stoically by Cindy Means).
PMS Cop may not be everyone’s cup of tasteless tea, but it does what it sets out to do, evoking the classic feel of the early 80s exploitation flicks and giving us some inappropriate chuckles. Overall, this film is a bloody good time.
Check it out exclusively on Full Moon Streaming, releasing today!



Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?

Movie Review : Lord Of Tears

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Lord Of Tears is a love letter to the Hammer horror films and Lovecraftian literature of the last millennium. An artful and atmospheric filmed nightmare, it draws from all of its influences to become a unique piece of film that will not soon be forgotten.
The first feature film from director Lawrie Brewster, he claims the film to be “no mere attempt to entertain”, rather an attempt to create his own mythology of old monsters and vengeful ghosts. Using the mythos of Lovecraft as a foundation, Mr. Brewster and the film’s writer Sarah Daly have created their own hidden world, with its own set of rules.

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The film tells the story of James, who has inherited a large lonely estate in the highlands of Scotland from his recently deceased estranged mother. She has also left him a letter strictly forbidding him to return to the old house, cryptically reminding him of suppressed childhood memories of monsters and loss.
A feisty little hobbit of a man, James decides he must return to the estate to try and remember what happened to him as a child. All along the way he is plagued by nightmares and quick-cut visions, creepy images barely glimpsed in passing.

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The film is shot gorgeously, and the utter solitude of the historic estate is illustrated beautifully. Lingering looks at snow-covered mountains and gnarled old trees are cut in with extreme close-ups of web-spinning spiders and crawling worms, giving a genuine sense of unease.
Upon his return, he meets Evie, a beautiful young lady who claims to live in the converted stables next door. She is motherly and kind to James, and a romance brews between them as he slowly learns more about his new home and himself. Dancer Lexi Hulme, who steals the show as Evie, is classically beautiful and has a unique grace that is put to great use as the narrative progresses.

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James himself is clearly haunted, and it becomes increasingly obvious that the old house contains some ghosts as well. He repeatedly sees visions of a lurking form, an unsettling figure dressed like a Victorian gentleman but with the head of an Owl, and elongated limbs with sharp claws.
The duo unravel the mystery surrounding the figure, and through research and luck, learn the story of Morloch, an ancient God of sacrifice. A mysterious key to a secret pagan shrine, a collection of bible verses, and his repeated visions lead them to find out more about the origins and motivations of the creepy Owlman.

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I am the immortal owl
The foul eye of oblivion
I am the almighty misanthrope,
The rope that tightens with the ticking of the clock.
I am the absolute and infinite blackness at the end of the tunnel.
I am the inevitable end of all things.

The film slow-burns it’s way through the middle third, building to a creepy and intense climax tying all the threads together for one of the bleakest endings in recent memory.
Explaining the mythology it created, and even answering a question the viewer probably didn’t know the film was asking, the whole thing is wrapped up in a very creepy sequence and a dark coda.
A fine first film, all the way around. One that succeeds (and exceeds) in everything it set out to accomplish with a grand and artistic flourish.
We will be very much looking forward to future work from director Lawrie Brewster, and interested to see if he decides to expand on this new mythology, or create a new one for us to enjoy!
Check out the trailer for the film below, and stay in the know about it on Facebook.
The film is available for purchase directly from the filmmakers here.

I should take a moment and talk about the packaging.
In this time of digital downloads and constant streaming, it is sometimes hard to remember the joy of opening the well-designed packaging of a film to add to your collection. The DVD version of the film is presented with not only a wide assortment of special features on the disc(s), but a beautiful slipcase decorated with gothic art, and a booklet further expanding the mythology of the story.
It was also hand-wrapped in black tissue paper, and affixed with a single owl feather.
Get your copy here, signed by the writer and director.

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Cenobites Who Write, Part 1 : Barbie Wilde’s The Venus Complex

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Best known for her nerve-wracking role in Hellbound : Hellraiser 2 as the menacing Female Cenobite, Barbie Wilde has gone on to cement her status in the horror world as a prolific author.
Her short story Sister Cilice, first seen in 2009′s Hellbound Hearts anthology, was an insightful look into the origin of her iconic film character.
First released by Comet Press in 2012, her controversial novel The Venus Complex is a beautifully-written and insightful look into the mind of an artistic and sadistic killer. Banned by the Edmonton Public Library earlier last year, the book is a must-read for fans of crime fiction, or anyone who has ever wanted to understand what exactly is going on behind the mask of sanity presented to the world by “likeable” serial killers such as Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer.

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Written in a “secret journal” format, the story of The Venus Complex follows the life and unfiltered thoughts of art professor Michael Friday as he recovers from a tragic accident and rebuilds his life.
Professor Friday is the handsome professional that hides many dark secrets from the world. He lives a fascinating dual life, reminiscent of recent literary serial killers like Dexter and Patrick Bateman, wearing the “mask of sanity” that never betrays his diabolical inner imaginings.
In fact, one of the earliest revelations into just how disturbed he may be is the fact that the automobile crash that wounded him and killed his wife was not exactly an accident.
As his recovery progresses, and through candid confessions to his journal, Professor Friday is revealed to us as a smart and observant budding serial killer.
The matter-of-fact way he looks at his life and the world we all inhabit have begun to poison his trains of thought (and give the readers some insightful social commentary), so he turns his focus to a young lady named Elene, a forensic psychologist who is employed at the same university.
Elene quickly becomes his obsession, and he turns the majority of his attention away from his disgust with modern society and focuses on her, his instant “soul mate”.
He finds himself unable to resist stalking and learning about her, and he quickly becomes an expert on the subject of Elene. He even tracks down an out-of-print book that she wrote about serial killers which provides him with the “moment of clarity” he has been searching for.
Spurred on by the insights he finds in his obssession’s book, our protagonist quite suddenly makes the decision to kill someone.
He writes in his journal :

I want…I need…to make a difference somehow. I cannot bear this dullness I feel, this unrelenting boredom with my existence. Maybe I should go out and kill someone. It would be the ultimate transgression, the ultimate high. The ultimate.

And, after passing that point of no return, the reader is taken along for the ride as Friday methodically plans and practices his new craft, which he refers to as “The Venus Complex”.
The novel races along with voyeuristic glee, as the reader is now made accomplice to Friday’s complicated plan. The journal style is greatly effective in making the reader feel complicit in his crimes, and has the strange effect of making us root for the “bad guy”!
The writing is tight and believable, chapters coming in varying bursts of rage and contemplation with each journal entry. Michael’s crimes become increasingly gruesome and he makes the precarious decision to assist in the criminal investigation of the case, which lead to some incredibly tense moments.
Michael Friday proves himself to be the ultimate professional in whatever he chooses to do, calm and cool even when his inner thoughts are screaming. He is a fascinating character in a great story, and this book is recommended reading for all of you fine students of Horror Homework!
Find “The Venus Complex” on Amazon.com here, and for more insights into the book check out my brief interview with Ms. Wilde below, but beware of some slight spoilers ahead for those of you who have not yet read the book!
Also stay tuned for Part 2 of “Cenobites Who Write” in the next few days, where we get to take a look at Other People’s Darkness, a new collection of short stories from the Chatterer himself, Nicholas Vince!

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I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Ms. Wilde, and asked her a few questions about The Venus Complex. Check out the short interview below!

HH : As a British woman, how did you manage to climb into the mind of a wholly-American male character? Your insights into a certain male pattern of thinking were amazing.

Barbie Wilde : Well, although I’m based in Europe, I’m actually Canadian. I grew up in Canada and then the United States (including Syracuse, NY, where the book is set), so I’ve met and known quite a lot of North American men. As far as my insights are concerned, I just did my research, not only into the thoughts of serial killers, but also into regular guys’ mindsets as well. I was lucky enough to have access to some very honest male friends who gave me their opinions on how men see the world.

HH : Some of Michael’s more radical ideas and rants make sense in a dark way, such as his frustrations with globalization and overpopulation. How much of yourself and your own beliefs went into these dark confessions?

Barbie Wilde : After I created the character of Michael, I was able to get into his head and follow his line of reasoning. It’s almost like an acting job, if you like. I certainly can understand Michael’s rage at the world, at the state of television, at injustice and stupidity.

HH : The “diary style” of the book was a great way to get inside the head of this character. Did you ever consider (or try) to write it from any other point of view?

Barbie Wilde : I actually began the book in the third person, concentrating on Elene, the character of the forensic psychologist. I thought that it would be interesting having a female character as the protagonist. However, after a while I got bored, to be honest. I wanted to do something different: to write a whydunnit, rather than a whodunnit. My interests had always been in the behavior and motivations of serial killers, so the idea of creating a “diary of a serial killer” was born.

HH : The equation of sex and pain as [not?] mutually exclusive is a big theme in the novel, and depicted in a matter-of-fact way that is not for the squeamish, but rings as honest and true. Why do you think so many people can’t separate the two?

Barbie Wilde : It seems all part of the peculiar design of human sexuality where sometimes the lines can get muddled. Even the act of loving sex can appear to be violent to the voyeur. And the sound of ecstatic sex can sometimes be confused with the sounds of murder, especially the sounds that are generated from the female of the species.

Human sexuality is unbelievably diverse and it’s a bit of a fallacy to think that we are all the same. It’s 360 degrees of desire. (Hey, that sounds like the title of my next novel!)

HH : I found Michael’s trains of thought to be fascinating and well-considered. He was a true professional of his chosen field(s). Will we be seeing more of his continued work in the future?

Barbie Wilde : A lot of readers have asked me that. I will be writing a sequel sometime in the future.

However, at the moment, I’m working on a screenplay of a short story of mine called Zulu Zombies, which appeared in Gorezone #29, as well as the Bestiarum Vocabulum Anthology (published by Western Legends Press). I’m also working on the play version of Sister Cilice, which was my first short horror story about a Female Cenobite that appeared in the Hellbound Hearts Anthology, as well as co-writing a musical drama called Sailor, which is about love, loss and revenge, set in the ruins of post-War Marseille.

And finally, I’ve been approached to appear in an extraordinary and visually enthralling horror movie anthology called Bad Medicine, written by Amazon #1 horror author Dave Jeffery and helmed by Bram Stoker Award-winning director James Hart. The first segment of their Kickstarter Campaign continues until the 31st of March, so please visit the website and give generously: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1227140694/bad-medicine-feature-film-anthology-first-segment

For more news, reviews and interviews, please go to: www.barbiewilde.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/barbie.wilde
Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/BarbieWildeAuthorActress
Twitter: @barbiewilde

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Original Horror Shirts

Delirium magazine delivers the goods on Full Moon Studios!

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Billing itself as “the only film magazine made by filmmakers” the new bi-monthly print magazine Delirium is available now!
Edited by master horror journalist Chris Alexander (former columnist for Rue Morgue, and current editor of Fangoria and the newly-resurrected Gorezone), Delirium is a different kind of magazine.
Brought to us under the banner of Full Moon Pictures, this new periodical is meant to focus on the work and films of Mr. Charles Band.
A legend in the horror industry, Mr. Band is responsible for many of the classic Empire films of the early 80′s before forming Full Moon Studios and bringing us many new staples of the genre.
In fact, over the past four decades, Mr. Band has had his hand in hundreds of films of varying quality and relevance. The goal of this new magazine is much more than a simple advertisement for the works of Charles Band, it is a glossy look into the past and future of everything Band-related.

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The first issue smartly kicks off with an informative look back at the definitive cult classic Re-Animator, as you can see on the beautiful cover above.
The format of the magazine closely resembles the Rue Morgue layout from Alexander’s tenure, beginning with a brief editor’s note and a quick look at notable releases. News about the new web-series “Trophy Heads” and a re-release of the “ganja-version” of 1996′s “Head Of The Family” quickly leads into the Re-Animator coverage.
The articles include an insightful interview with director Stuart Gordon and a nice chat with scream queen Barbara Crampton (complete with stills of her assets). Capping it off with a look at the much-loved score by Richard Band and a fascinating serial memoir from Gordon himself, the Re-Animator coverage is informative and fun. Everyone seems to remember it fondly, and it is great to learn some inside information on the making of the classic film!

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Followed by an article called “The Birth Of A Director”, Alexander next interviews Douglas Aarniokoski about his experience in the movie industry. Known as the director of the new film Nurse 3D, as well as past experiences as an AD for Robert Rodriguez and Sam Raimi, Aarniokoski’s story is one of those great ones. A guy who loves movies just goes for it, and his hard work and dedication pays off. A very inspiring story!

Next, we get an inside look at Full Moon’s Wizard Studios imprint, which is designed to spotlight international indie filmmakers and give them a wide distribution through the new streaming service. They give us quick looks at three upcoming titles from the service, alongside quick chats with the creative people responsible for them.

A peek at the sequel for Killer Eye follows that, and a long and loving look at Stephanie Rothman’s 1972 film “The Velvet Vampire” which is one of many titles streaming under the Grindhouseflix label. In fact, the next article gives us quick synopses of a selection of titles also available to stream under the Blue Underground license. Some serious classics are on this list of exploitation flicks, including The Blood Spattered Bride, The Church, and Lamberto Bava’s directorial debut, Macabre.

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Things get wrapped up with a long and loving look back at Tourist Trap, and a final  thank you from Charles Band himself, reminiscing of the days of old Marvel Comics and the fond memories of “Stan Lee’s Soapbox”, where the readers were treated to a look inside the windows of the life of the creative person. This seems to be the mission of Delirium magazine : to take a long look back at the decades of work put in, and have a little fun doing it!

Over all, I very much enjoyed the first issue of Delirium, even though at some points it feels uncomfortably clear that it is essentially a 52-page advertisement for the films and services of Mr. Band. To be fair, however, the man has had a long and fascinating career in the horror industry, and it seems unlikely that Alexander and the other contributors to the magazine will run out of interesting stories any time soon!
Looking forward to the second issue, which will feature a close look at the great “Tombs Of The Blind Dead” series, and many more!
Subscribe to the magazine and peruse the unique Streaming Service here , and be sure to check them out on Facebook for updates and news about new and upcoming issues.

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Pilot review : From Dusk Till Dawn The Series

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During a recent chat about the seemingly unstoppable remake trend, a good friend of mine said, “This type of news doesn’t shock or upset me anymore. NOTHING is sacred. They are trying to turn out many untouchable classics like they’re just dirty old whores. It’s just a question of who chooses to do what and how well they pull it off.”
And she is right.
Now, calling the 1996 film “From Dusk Till Dawn” an untouchable classic may be a bit of a stretch for some of you, but to me that is what it is. I have some of the fondest memories of being 20 years old, on acid, experiencing that film for the first time alongside my best friend.
So, to me, this thing is untouchable. It was a unique and insane new take on the vampire legend, with some of my favorite performances from awesome people.
George Clooney, in my opinion, has never topped his role as Seth Gecko.
Tom Savini, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, so much to love!
And who could forget the first time they saw Salma Hayek as Santanico Pandemonium?

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But this is about the show, not the film.
And by now, after countless remakes we should be able to seperate the two.
I know that no one can take away the original, so what can we say about this new version?

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First off, the question of who is doing the remaking has a unique answer.
Robert Rodriguez himself (director of the original film and many other favorites like Sin City and Planet Terror) is leading the charge for this new version.
In fact, he has created his very own television network El Rey where the show can be seen exclusively. The channel shows some great overlooked Grindhouse films and oddball Spanish shows, and From Dusk Till Dawn looks to be it’s first big selling point.

Rodriguez is quoted as saying, “I want El Rey to be everybody. I want it to be very inclusive. Instead of going to Hollywood where the doors are closed, mine is going to be where the doors are open. I’m going to flip the pyramid of power around outwards, where people all have a say, because that’s what you want.

In fact, the prolific creator is credited as director in the pilot episode, although I think he hands of the reigns to someone else after this first one.
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When the show was first announced several months ago, I immediately thought it could have great potential to continue the story. After one sequel and prequel that were pretty much related only in name, it would be exciting to see what happened next.
After that great lingering final scene of the huge temple behind the bar showed us the vampires had likely been feeding here for decades, there was huge potential to expand the mythology of these creatures.
Also, I always wondered what happened to Juliette Lewis’ character after Seth left her there, alone in the middle of nowhere. It made sense for Clooney’s character, but always left that lingering question : What was she supposed to do next???
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It seems we will never know what happened to her, as it turns out the new show is not a continuation, but a re-imagining of the story.
The series premiered last night, and will continue for the next ten weeks on the El Rey network, and on Netflix Streaming outside of the United States.
My overall thoughts of the show was that it was hit and miss. Some things worked, some not so much. First of all, the casting is interesting and stronger than expected.
Don Johnson is excellent in an expanded role as Earl McGraw, originally played hypnotically by the great Michael Parks. A character who died before the opening credits even rolled in the film, McGraw is seen here having breakfast with his partner, chatting about life and estimating how many days he has left.
Zane Holtz, replacing Quentin Tarantino as Richard Gecko the dangerous psychopath, is somewhat of an upgrade. He drips with psychotic tension, and seems much more imposing and dangerous right off the bat. It also seems that they are alluding that he has some sort of psychic connection with the vampires, which I am guessing will come into play sooner rather than later.
D.J. Cotrona, reviving George Clooney’s unforgettable role as the bad-ass, level-headed Seth Gecko doesn’t fare quite as well in my opinion. He spends a great deal of time hiding in the bathroom on his cell-phone with Carlos (Cheech Marin replaced by the “foreign kid” from That 70s Show, say what?) trying to find an easy way out of their predicament.
In fact the entire first episode takes place in Benny’s World Of Liquor, which only constituted the opening scene of the film.
The fast pace of the original store scene served as a quick introduction to these ferocious criminals and their plight, but this new version expands it and changes a few things. It still hits the same beats, just hangs on a bit longer and changes the tone.
Since I know the film by heart, I could see every tweak and pick up on every nuance. Of course, some worked and some didn’t. In fact, when it felt the weakest and most forced was when they were replicating lines directly from the film without even a change.
The “Be Cool.” proclamation lost effect here, but some of the reworked dialogue actually felt more natural and insightful.
The most interesting twist and significant change to the storyline so far is the character of , Earl McGraw’s partner, who didn’t exist previously. He is outside waiting in the car as Earl fatefully drains his lizard, and by the end of the premiere his character becomes a prominent part of the revamped story.
Overall, it is an interesting concept with some great potential, and I can’t wait till we get to return to the Titty Twister and see what the show can offer that could possibly compare to the pure chaos of the original.
I look forward to seeing this series through to the end, and what else Robert Rodriguez will be bringing to this unique new television network.
So what did you guys think of the new show?
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Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?

Movie review : The Seasoning House (2012)

933911_10151443621741344_1309589823_n Set in the midst of a brutal war in the Balkans in 1996, The Seasoning House is a film dripping with atmosphere. From the opening scenes set to the sounds of one girl weeping as another crawls through an air vent, we are forced to vicariously take part in the secret goings-on of a horrible place.

Seasoning_House-posterThe Seasoning House an old rickety place, filled with the spoils of war. Meaning a recurring supply of kidnapped young ladies who are forced to pleasure the weary soldiers who have most likely murdered their entire families.
“What ever life you knew is gone,” the girls are told as they arrive, and it proves to be sadly true.
Our main character is “Angel” a young birth-marked deaf-mute girl who somehow gets taken under the wing of the otherwise sadistic owner of the house, Viktor.
In order to keep herself under the radar of the housemaster and his lecherous guests, Angel scurries around through the walls, and performs the dirty jobs of shooting up the other girl’s with heroin and smearing their faces with makeup.

The-Seasoning-House1The first half is an unflinching look at the inner workings of this shameful rape house, and does the job of making the audience squirm. Angel does what she must to survive, as do the victimized women, but the monsters are real and they are horrible.
The atmosphere of filth and dread is almost unbearable.

Angel makes a connection with one of the girls, who happens to know sign language. Through flashbacks we see Angel’s abusive relationship with her own father, and her family torn apart for sport.

The-Seasoning-House-2-DIWhen her mother’s killer shows up at the House with a patrol of men on a break, Angel makes her move to try and save her friend and escape the House. It is a bloody turning point about halfway through the film. From then on we thankfully don’t witness any more rapey stuff, but the film follows Angel’s escape, which plays out something like “People Under The Stairs vs. The Military”. I mean that in a good way.

It is a complete tonal shift from the first half, as the resourceful young girl makes a sport of these militarized heathens. She is wonderful in the role, agile and smart and I found myself rooting for her escape whole-heartedly.

the-seasoning-houseThe film as a whole may be uneven, and the rapy-er parts might turn some viewers off, but all in all I found The Seasoning House to be an interesting and well-told tale.
Find it on DVD here, or catch it on Netflix Streaming!
Recommended.
Grade : B




Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?

Clive Barker : Imaginer

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Back in 2005, a hardcover collection of the artwork of the legendary Clive Barker was published under the title “Visions Of Heaven And Hell”. Now unfortunately out of print, it is a must own for any afficionado of the master of the macabre. I consider it one of my own prized possessions.
In the subsequent years, Mr. Barker has emerged as an amazing visual artist, something that many fans of his film and written work may not be as aware of. With the publication of his incredible Abarat series, each volume of which includes a staggering amount of beautiful paintings, he has proven himself to be as great a painter as he is a writer.
Some people just have it all, I guess!

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“I think of myself as somebody who is reporting from a world of dreams.”  -Clive Barker, interview for Barnes and Noble, Fall 2002.

Now, with the help of Kickstarter, we will be able to see a new collection of artwork from this living legend in the form of a new limited edition hardcover.
According to the Kickstarter page :

IMAGINER is the first comprehensive volume of the artwork of Clive Barker.  Featuring over 75 artworks and over 160 pages, the book will be a gorgeous large format of 10″ x 13″ inches.  There have been marginal explorations of Clive’s artwork in the past, but the most important part of this project is that the book is composed of entirely ALL NEW and ULTRA HIGH RESOLUTION image captures.  The detail is impeccable, and Clive flatteringly declared the difference in detail of the new captures compared to previously printed ones like the difference between “chalk and cheese”.  (Which means they’re really, really good!)

The purest, most direct path from the raw creative mind of Clive Barker to our world is through his artworks.  We are in the process of exhuming and documenting a lifetime of genius; these artworks are the origin points of characters we recognize, and hold hints of stories yet to come.  We expect this first book to be the beginning of a series of volumes examining his work in great detail, and are also in the process of documenting his creative process on film for a documentary titled Clive Barker: Imaginer.

This is an art book of the highest quality, and is being created with the utmost attention to detail to present the artwork as though you were witnessing the paintings and drawings in person.

With a nice selection of incentives for backers and fans of Mr. Barker’s work, this book appears to be another must have from this huge inspiration!
Check out the Kickstarter campaign for more details!

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